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Faras' position within Nubia (upper left)

Faras (formerly Ancient Greek: Παχώρας, Pakhôras; Latin: Pachoras; Old Nubian: Ⲡⲁⲣⲁ, Para) was a major city in Lower Nubia. The site of the city, on the border between modern Egypt and Sudan at Wadi Halfa Salient, was flooded by Lake Nasser in the 1960s and is now permanently underwater. Before this flooding, extensive archeological work was conducted by a Polish archeological team.

Fresco in the Cathedral
Fragment of the frieze with birds (National Museum in Warsaw)


Dating back to the A-Group period, the town was a major centre during the Meroitic period, and was the site of a major temple. During the period of ancient Egyptian control over Nubia, Faras became an Egyptian administrative centre and, located upriver from Abu Simbel, Egyptian cultural influences were prominent.

The city reached its height during the Christian period of Nubia, when Faras was the capital of the Basiliskos Silko of Nobadia. When Nobatia was absorbed into Makuria, it remained the most prominent center in the north, the seat of Nobadia's eparch.


One of the most important discoveries from the Christian period was the town's cathedral. The cathedral had been completely filled with sand which preserved a large number of intricate paintings on its walls. These paintings are the best surviving examples of Christian Nubian art and depict a number of well-known Biblical scenes and portraits of various monarchs and bishops of Faras. These paintings were salvaged and are today on display in Warsaw and Khartoum. In addition, a major pottery works was found.

In the turbulent later years of Christian Nubia, Faras seems to have declined and the administrative center moved to the more easily defended area of Qasr Ibrim.

See also

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